I have seen many articles and comments of late which lament the lack of religion in schools. Many people appear to feel that the lack of religion in our school system is directly responsible for the lack of morality in general, and the increasing levels of violence amongst children.
I am sure that most people are horrified by the various headlines – “Girl, 15, in court for killing pupil”, “ACDP: Teacher assault immoral” and of course, the Anene case. There certainly does appear to be an increasing level of violence and depravity.
The question is: will bringing religion back into schools really stem the tide? Will daily prayers in assembly, and religious instruction classes once or twice a week, make any difference? And if so, which religion will be taught? And who will teach my child that religion? Should we cover all religions, just to make sure that no-one feels left out? To whom should we pray in assembly?
I get the feeling that the majority of folk would want prayers to the Christian God. What about those children who are not Christian?
Let us assume that, for the sake of this argument, teachings and assemblies revolve around the Christian God. Which doctrine will be followed? Catholic? Baptist? Methodist? Anglican? Or perhaps one of the many others? Who decides? If our children are to be taught to say The Lord’s Prayer, will they say “forgive us our trespasses” or will they be taught to say “forgive us our debts”? Something so very basic – yet there are differences.
Moving on to the actual religious instruction in class – again, which doctrine will be taught? Baptists, for example, do not practice infant baptism. Methodists (as far as I know) do. Which is correct? If my (unbaptised) child belongs to a Baptist Church, will they feel left out (or damned to eternal hellfires) because the teacher, who is Methodist, tells the class that everyone should be baptised? What will my child be taught about hell? What if the teacher is Anglican and my child is Catholic – can I really be sure that the teacher will be able to put aside their own personal beliefs and teach my child a “generic” version of Christianity as a whole?
Some years ago I had a child come home from school absolutely traumatised, as the RI teacher had informed a class of ten and eleven year old children that eventually we will all be forced to have microchips implanted in our wrists, and these microchips will be “the mark of the Devil”. Whilst I do not have a problem with anyone’s religious beliefs, as we are all entitled to believe whatever we choose to believe, I do, and did, have a problem with those beliefs being passed on to a child as FACT. (Given my feelings on this incident, I can well understand how atheists must feel on this entire topic.)
Perhaps the answer is to teach snippets of all religions. Expose the children to every religion known to man. (That should keep them in school for another ten years or so, just to cover the “religious” syllabus.) But what about those children whose parents do not want them to be taught about religion at all? Do those children then get a “free pass” on those classes?
To me, the answer is quite simple – keep ALL religion out of schools. For those children who are being brought up in religious homes, there is nothing to stop them saying their own prayers privately and quietly before writing a test, or eating their lunch, for example. Let the parents handle the religious instruction, or lack thereof, of their children. If, as a parent, you want your child to be schooled in a religious atmosphere, then you have the choice to go the private school route – many churches have their own schools these days. (And if you go that route, you have the added bonus of having your child taught your denomination’s doctrine only, with no "confusing" information being offered about other beliefs.)
We certainly need a return to decent, civilised behaviour, but that starts AT HOME. It has nothing to do with religion in schools – it has everything to do with parents taking responsibility for their children, and teaching their children how to be decent human beings before they get anywhere near a school and other children. It starts with discipline and respect at home. It starts with parents leading by example, respecting not only each other, but more importantly, their children too. Children learn by example – don’t just tell them, SHOW them. Stop expecting (and relying on) the schools to teach your children that which you should have been teaching them from Day One.
It starts with us, the parents.
Peace and blessings.
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